Sarah Underwood, a technology writer based in Teddington, U.K., reports that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, have developed a reputation as weapons of war, invaders of privacy, and potential threats to public safety. They are also emerging in the theater of artistic performance, bringing a new dimension to entertainment, driving innovation in computer science, and fueling the debate about acceptable and unacceptable use.

The application of drones to dance is leading the creation of artistic performance pieces that integrate people and intelligent flying machines, as well as raising questions about their potential.

Nina Kov is a choreographer and dancer with an interest in technology that can capture motion. In 2012, she entered Copter, a three-dimensional duet featuring a small helicopter and a dancer moving together, into the Place Prize, a U.K.-based contemporary dance competition sponsored by Bloomberg. Kov did not win, but her interest in technology did not wane; she has since collaborated with a research team led by Tamás Vicsek, a professor in the Biological Physics department at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, that is studying collective motion.

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